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thanks for the feedback - this is what I think


Okay, previously I wrote about my parents' final wishes. I asked for feedback and thank you so much for verifying what I always thought: this is weird.

All of our lives my parents have bent over backwards to make sure everything was equal between my siblings and me. On the face of it, that seems somewhat noble, right? They never showed a blatant favorite, although a recent, informal poll shows we all had some notion about who we thought the favorite was. But my parents did not show special attention to any one sibling.

This effort at equality goes down to all five of the girls' middle name: Marie. Ugh, I can't stand that. I do not acknowledge or use my middle name or initial. In fact, just yesterday I used it the one time of the year when I have to -- on our tax returns. And my husband makes sure to say to me every year, "Remember, you have to use the M in your signature."

One more example before I move on. All six of us had to get a high school graduation ring. I think my siblings wanted a ring. By the time it was my turn (I'm the last one) I didn't want one. High school was not a good time for me. I didn't like it and it brings back bad memories. I did not want a piece of jewelry to symbolize that.

But I have one. Many tears were shed and it almost came to blows from my father but by golly, just like the rest of them, I have a freakin' high school ring, because everything in this family is fair. (Side note: I'm not sure where said ring is. Probably somewhere at my parent's house since I hate that ring and everything it stands for.)

I can only speak for myself, but the fact that my parents went overboard to let us know none of us were special has left me feeling exactly that way -- as nothing special. Just one of many on the conveyor belt of life. Nothing unique about me, I'm just one of the many McGillicuty kids. Hell, the girls are interchangeable if not for the first name (which all start with a C or a K).

I understand that they did the best they could and gave us everything they had to give. It just wasn't enough for me. Nothing new there -- journals across the world are filled with this type of angst. A lot of my personal choices with my own children are guided (in the opposite direction) by my upbringing. All three daughters have different middle names. And all three daughters get special time alone with me and my husband.

But back to my parents' final wishes. It's hard to fault my mom, since she has Alzheimer's. However, she never was the sentimental type. She doesn't keep stuff hanging around. I remember quite a while ago (before the Alzheimer's set in) asking her if she kept anything special from her mother after she died, as a special reminder. She said no. A ring or a sweater is not going to bring her mother back and does not capture her mother's essence. She has her memories of her mother and that's enough for her. She's also very practical.

When her parents' died her brother took care of liquidating assets and wasn't so equitable about sharing the wealth, as it were. Similar story on my father's side. So her big thing is: at least each one of her children will get a sizeable amount of money once she and my dad are dead. Not enough to buy a new house but a chunk to help out with bills, etc.

I can see how that would be important to her, given the circumstances, and I don't fault them on that point. I've told my dad I think he should pick one item for each child and declare it in the will. Just a little something that would be a keepsake personally chosen by him. He said no.

I tried to explain that it would be a comfort to me knowing he thought I should have, say, a notebook from his honeymoon. I'm not looking for a big ticket item. Just a small something that was important to him and something he earmarked for me. Gosh, just one little item that might make me feel special.

Again, he said no.

Paula, my therapists, says this is one last effort (subconscious or not) to stick it to his children. To make us fight and argue over them. I'm not sure about that. I know it's important to him and my mom to feel like they never favored any one child. Grr, I get that!

My personal response to this is that I want nothing from the house. I have adopted my mom's philosophy: a pair of shoes is not going to bring my mom back. And I think it is absolutely ludicrous to have to roll dice to get something from my parent's house. I think that's crazy. I just have no words to explain what I think of this concept. No words.

It hurts my feelings and makes me feel even more isolated from my parents. I never felt I had a close relationship with either one of them and this is par for the course. This dice thing is just the icing on the cake. It's something I would expect to see in an indie film shown in Cannes. Or a scene from "Little Miss Sunshine." Not a scene out of my actual life.

I guess my family is a book writing itself. Maybe you will see this as a scene in an indie film -- my indie film. I certainly have enough characters to create a compelling book/movie.


2007-02-19 at 6:33 a.m.

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